Alabama county must pay attorney fees in civil rights case

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court says Shelby County, Alabama, cannot recover $2 million in attorney fees from the U.S. government in a case that nullified a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

Shelby County had prevailed in the case when, in 2013, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to eliminate the Justice Department's ability under the act to stop potentially discriminatory voting laws before they took effect.

Shelby argued that the law lets the winning party recover attorney fees.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday ruled that the county's civil rights lawsuit did not advance the law's anti-discriminatory purposes, and therefore didn't qualify for fee recovery.

The court said Congress' goal was not to encourage a lawsuit "to neuter the act's central tool."

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